It’s been two and a half years since my beautiful middle son left his earthly house, his physical body, and his spirit flew off to his eternal heavenly home. (Am I still counting the days, weeks, months? Not as much as in the first year, but, yes. I still know exactly how long he has been gone.) I cannot comprehend that this much time has passed since I last saw him alive here on earth. It feels as though not only is his body sleeping beneath the surface of the earth, but my mind has been sleeping since he left us. I am just, in the last few months, beginning to feel like I am still alive and breathing. But my brain is much slower in catching up to this fact – that I am still living. I feel like I lost 2 years of my life…………..and I can’t make myself care about that fact.
Many things have changed in the past two and a half years, and many things have stayed the same. The one thing that will never change is that he is gone. Like King David said of his young son in 2 Samuel 12:23, “I will go to him, but he will not return to me.” It is a sad fact, but I cling to this truth. By God’s mercy, I will go to him someday. But he will not return to me, and this fact is heartbreaking and crushing.
The two and a half-year mark has been significant to me for many years – almost more significant than the yearly marks. My first-born child was a very beautiful (the old Chinese proverb definitely applies to me – every mother believes her child is the most beautiful), verbal and articulate child. She had a conversation with my mom on the phone when she was only 19 months old, saying, “Hi” and “I’m fine” and “How are you?”. When she was two and a half, her younger brother was born, and she heard me tell others many times that she was “two and a half years old” and she quickly picked up on that and began telling others herself, saying, “I’m two and a half”. It was quite adorable and made an impression on me, prompting me to teach my other 4 children to say the same at that age. But I remember her tinkling little-girl voice saying it more clearly than the others.
I also loved the unbearable cuteness of each of my children at the age of two and a half. They were still babyish enough to need me, yet they were inquisitive and verbal enough to almost qualify as preschoolers. It was a delightful time in each of their lives, and in the life of our family. Challenging, yes, but also most delightful.
Yet, here we are at the two and a half-year mark after the death of one of my children. I am always surprised by the similarities between bringing a child into this world and losing a child to heaven. The feelings of both are at opposite extremes on the spectrum of emotions. Both left me breathless – the first, with awe and wonder at the magnificence of God’s handiwork; the other, with the depth of excruciating pain caused by the tearing away of his presence. Both brought thanksgiving to my lips – the births, for the precious gift of the life of a new human being God granted me stewardship over; the morning of his death, for the 25 years God allowed me to have him.
Today, though, even with the sunshine returning after about 2 weeks of constant clouds and rain, I find myself mourning again – sad and heartbroken over that one child I can no longer touch, no longer hear, no longer talk to. I fought it all morning, but finally gave in and texted my husband, who I knew was probably too busy to respond. But he did. He comforted me, and somehow gave me permission, without actually saying that, to lean into the pain instead of resisting it. Something about knowing he knows I’m having a hard day gives me the acceptance I need to just “go with it”. And, going with it softens the grief more quickly.
I have often felt like I am continually rounding the base of the same mountain in my life – this near-constant sorrow over the loss of my son. I’ve had an epiphany, of sorts, though. I see, every time I am at this place again, that it is not as bad as the last time I was at this place. So, maybe I’m not constantly rounding the base of the mountain of sorrow. Maybe as I circle the mountain again and again, I am actually ascending it at a very slow, but steady, pace. Maybe. That’s a good thought to meditate on, isn’t it?
Two and a half years ago I very unwillingly began the horrific process of telling one of my precious children goodbye. I hate that I have to do this. I hate that he is gone from this earth forever. I hate it. But, I’m doing it. I’m letting him go. I’m rejoicing that I had him with us here for the 25 years God allowed. I’m being honest about the pain of this loss. And I am trying to continue living, with the fervent hope that my life can be pleasing to God.
“For in grief nothing ‘stays put.’ One keeps on emerging from a phase, but it always recurs. Round and round. Everything repeats. Am I going in circles, or dare I hope I am on a spiral? But if a spiral, am I going up or down it? How often – will it be for always? – how often will the vast emptiness astonish me like a complete novelty and make me say, ‘I never realized my loss till this moment’? The same leg is cut off time after time.”
~C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstance; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18
“Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being, and in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom.” Psalm 51:6